Image Credits: Malyshev Maksim/shutterstock.com
A material made up of tin atoms arranged in a single layer could be the world’s first electrical conductor with 100% efficiency, which would make it more conductive than graphene. The material has not yet been mass-produced, but it has been named as stanene by combining stannum, the Latin word for tin, and the suffix –ene of graphene.
Super Conducting Material - Stanene
Stanene is within a class of materials known as topological insulators, which conduct electricity only through their surfaces or edges and not through their interiors. These structures are a single atom thick, and the electrons and nuclei of heavy atoms in the structures exhibit complex interactions, allowing them to conduct electricity with 100% efficiency.
According to the research team leader, the significance of topological insulators is that they drive electrons along a defined path without any resistance. Previou, the research team determined that mercury telluride and combinations of tellurium, selenium, antimony and bismuth are topological insulators. However, none of them proved to be a good electric conductor at room temperature.
Further, the team decided to work on a single layer of tin earlier this year. The results showed that tin is a perfect electric conductor at and even above room temperature. Also, the researchers claimed that the efficiency of tin could be extended up to 100°C with the addition of fluorine atoms to tin.
Potential Benefits of Stanene
Researchers stated that one of the first applications of stanene could be wiring systems that link various parts of a microprocessor as the free flow of electrons in the wiring would significantly lower the heat generation and power consumption of microprocessors. They also said that stanene could be potentially used to improve the speed and reduce the power consumption of computer chips in the future.
Moreover, researchers believe that stanene could be used as a replacement for silicon in transistors. Manufacturing challenges, however, include ensuring the deposition of a single layer of tin and maintaining the single layer intact during chip manufacturing processes.
A Super Fast Future?
Scientists have been working on the concept of electrical conductivity without losses for several years, but most of the systems operate only under extreme conditions, either strong magnetic fields or very low temperatures such as with superconductors.
The discovery of stanene is a significant breakthrough in semiconductor material research. Researchers are waiting for experimental confirmation, but they do believe that the atomically thin, delicate layers of stanene will likely revolutionize the microprocessor industry in the future.
Sources and Further Reading